Ashdown praises Cotterill heroics

Jamie Ashdown, right, has hailed the work of Steve Cotterill as Pompey boss

Jamie Ashdown, right, has hailed the work of Steve Cotterill as Pompey boss

Carl Baker scores Pompey's winner against Mansfield Picture: Joe Pepler

Mansfield 0 Pompey 1 – Neil Allen’s match report

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Steve Cotterill is sparkling in one of ‘the hardest jobs in football’.

That is the verdict of Jamie Ashdown, who believes Pompey’s boss is excelling in the Fratton Park hot seat.

As well as hailing Cotterill as the main reason behind the Blues’ turnaround in fortunes, the keeper is convinced his manager can continue performing miracles against all the odds.

Pompey find themselves free from the threat of relegation with nine games remaining, despite unceasing financial restrictions.

Heading to Leicester on Saturday, they even have the opportunity to maintain an unlikely play-off push, such has been their remarkable transformation.

With 19 points from a possible 24 recently and seven clean sheets, they are one of the Championship’s form sides.

Not bad for a team who were bottom of the table for 27 days in September and went 10 matches without victory at the turn of the year.

Ashdown puts down that turnaround down to his manager.

And he is adamant Cotterill is emphatically proving his quality in one of the toughest positions around.

He said: ‘It has been difficult for all of us this season.

‘I’m sure there were people calling for the manager’s resignation after the first seven games – but he’s got such a good spirit.

‘He works hard at things, has kept us all together and built on what we’ve got.

‘It has been mainly him that has got this amazing turnaround.

‘It has probably been one of the hardest jobs in football.

‘I know there are other teams that have struggled with money, gone into administration, or got to the brink of administration, or whatever.

‘But the gaffer has probably had it the hardest, especially with everything else that has been going on.

‘We had the smallest squad in the Football League for a long while.

‘I’m not exactly sure how many players we even had at that time but it was tough.

‘We’ve remained resilient, though, and just kept pushing forward.

‘And that’s down to the gaffer, who continues to do a tremendous job for this football club.’

Today’s placing of 13th is a far cry from the position Pompey found themselves in during the end of August and majority of September. A haul of two points from his opening seven matches put them bottom of the table.

That prompted a small minority of fans to criticise their new boss.

A 6-1 Fratton Park thumping of Leicester on September 24 got the season up and running.

Now any relegation fears have been comfortably dispelled.

Ashdown added: ‘You can’t really blame the fans for having a go in those first seven games.

‘As players you try your hardest.

‘But when you are losing 1-0 after playing your best game, sometimes you can’t see the light through the tunnel.

‘But the turnaround has been amazing. Incredible.’

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